We make it into Yellowstone at least once a week right now. It requires a lot more effort than in the warmer months, but it is worth it. From the moment I enter those borders, I am home.
(This is Richie, the girls’ hiking mascot. Every kid should have a mascot, don’t you think?) :)
I marvel sometimes at the things that were once difficult that have become second nature. I remember last year, working for an hour at times to get 6 little bodies into snow gear and 6 little pairs of snowshoes strapped to 12 little feet. Now, we can hop out of the car and strap those things on in minutes.
Yesterday, we explored a new trail. We floated over the hills of snow and down to the river. We crossed it and left the trail, opting this time to follow the winding Gallatin further and further.
I love snowshoeing. I love the work. I love how much more deliberate each step is. There is little joy in the world like stepping out into a completely untouched white world that has not seen other feet in so very long.
We found a perfect place to stop and rest. We played and listened to the bubbling water flow under the ice.
We ate the pure, untouched, wild snow. I laid down in it and watched the sky and the clouds.
My oldest lay on her stomach and leaned over the bank (she was completely safe), punching the ice in small bursts, to break clumps of river ice out and pull them up for her sisters.
In moments like that, I feel like I could explain the meaning and purpose of anything and everything. Everything is whole and clear. Everyone becomes so much quieter, listening to what she is being taught, even while playing.
My children begged to stay when it was time to go. We stayed a half hour more.
We finally left our little place to head back to the car and back to the things that needed doing. I heard one of my girls promise the river she would be back soon. Chunks of layered, sparkling river ice were carried gently until we reached the car and they absolutely had to stay behind.
There are times I feel a little sorry for the strength it takes to be a child who walks such a different path. There is so much rush and activity that we have chosen to stay out of, and that sets them apart and makes them different. But then I look at my children and the light in their eyes and a piece of the river in their hands and I realize, I am not sorry at all.